Account of a highly successful meeting from March 4th to 8th 2008
After a long and busy preparation period the time of the meeting was finally there! The bookings soared in the last several weeks and we were expecting a proud number of 28 participants. Dorise had arrived 2 weeks prior to put on the last finishing touches to the schedule.
And then it began - Pilots from all over the world arrived! The first one was Dean Stahr from Napa/California who was able to enjoy 3 days alone with Dorise. The two had a great time driving around the Cape in Dorise's 26 year old Mercedes. The Hottentot Mountains were particularly impressive - especially without radiator and break fluid... No wonder slowing down was a little bit weird.
Most of the Earthrounders arrived on Monday and after checking into the Erinvale Hotel, they gathered in the evening at Dorise's to be introduced to many excellent wines South Africa has to offer. The weather was fantastic with blue skies and dream temperatures. Frank had apparently talked to the Weather God and it had worked.
Tuesday was registration day for the participants of the meeting. After a day of leisure we met at the Erinvale Golfclub for a champagne welcome and wonderful dinner. Thank you, Esther, for the organization.
Wednesday morning Ricky de Agrela - a South African Earthrounder - presented his impressive round the world trip in a microlight. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at the famous Wine Estate Vergelegen across the road from Erinvale. Vergelegen is known worldwide for its wine but just as impressive was the estate itself, especially the park with its ancient camphor trees. The afternoon round table discussion was moved from the conference room to the Hotel pool - obviously because of the incredible weather not because of the Vergelegen wines...
On Thursday, the group went on a bus tour around the Cape of Good Hope, stopping at the Blue Marlin for lunch. The Hettlichs had reserved this day for family and Frank. The Earthrounders had brought small stones from their home countries and we carried them with many other stones up the mountain to Frank.
After a refreshing shower, we left for the Willowbrook Lodge down the road where a wonderful evening brought us closer together as one big aviator family.
After a short round table discussion on Friday morning, the bus left for Cape Town to visit the Waterfront and Table Mountain. The Hettlichs met the group again at our Kindergarten Frank's Heaven. The Kindergarten children had learned and practiced several songs and were having a great time performing them. The toys we had brought along were a huge success as well.
With a Muffin and a cup of tea the Earthrounders toured the Kindergarten and the brand new Baby Day Care and Children Arts Centre. The latter is about to open but still needs a few essential things. Generous donations on the spot, especially by Margi and Gerard, Jacqueline and Dean, allowed us to confirm delivery of the desperately needed kitchen appliances. A heartfelt THANK YOU!
Afterwards we enjoyed a visit to the neighbouring winery 'Thelema'. Hosted by Gyles and Barbara Webb, we tasted excellent South African wines, cheeses and hospitality. We greatly appreciated the 'tasteful' visit. John Platter, author of the South African wine bible, along with his wife Erica also added to the success of the afternoon.
Dinner was served next door at the vinery 'Tokara'. This evening was designated for any official ceremonies. After expressing their appreciation for this years hosts for, the Earthrounders flag was handed over to Margi and Gerard Moss. These two will host the next meeting in Brazil. And we will be there, of course!
For us, the Hettlich family, it was impressive how present Frank was during the meeting. There were many toasts to his honour and many stories about his and others flying adventures. Considering that it was Frank who had so enthusiastically started the organization for this South African meeting, he truly was part of it. Thank you to all Earthrounders for remembering him!
The highlight for all attendees was Saturday. The Stellenbosch Flying Club, Frank's home base, had invited the Earthrounders for a social event with South African BBQ. With blue skies and hardly a breeze, everyone had the opportunity to go flying along the breathtaking drop back of the Hottentot mountains and False Bay.
Rose Cullingworth, Nick Howard, Phillip Joseph, Graham Smith, George Lamb and Harold Bloch, as well as many others from the Club have helped make this day an unforgettable event. Without you, dear aviator friends from Stellenbosch, it would not even have been half as wonderful of an experience. Thank you!
The stone from the Stellenbosch Flying Club is already on the Helderberg with Frank.
The meeting came to an end with an African evening at the restaurant Mojo at the Spiers vineyard.
And the most hardy ones stayed up and celebrated into Dorise's birthday.
We, the Hettlich family, Dorise, Claudia and Robin, Bianca and Malaika thank all of you for coming. It was wonderful to have you here and we feel that this meeting went the way, Frank would have done it. We look forward seeing you again in Brazil or at other locations!
Dorise, Claudia and Robin, Bianca and Malaika
Any traveller knows the value of a great travel agent. Leony's organization was outstanding and very much appreciated!